Sunday, August 06, 2006

Helicopters are terrifying

If you're looking to ruin a pair of pants, say for instance by shitting them in terror, then I recommend nothing more than a ride in a helicopter.

Today the wife and I took a 10-minute ride in a one, and it was terrifying. And I mean terrifying in that "Oh God I'm going to die, please forgive me for that time I set that sleeping hobo on fire, I'll be good from now on" kind of way.

It started innocently enough. We went with some friends in the morning to the yearly pancake breakfast that our sleepy hamlet of St. Anthony Village has as part of "Village Fest", a raucous, no-holds-barred weekend festival comprised of 2 tents and a terrible cover band. We noticed the day before that we seemed to be hearing a lot of helicopter noise, but since there are a lot of old people in our neighborhood, I figured the heat was causing them to drop like flies and the flight for life copter was putting in some overtime to keep up. But then after breakfast, we saw confirmation in the shape of a somewhat shabbily-painted sign that read, innocently enough, "helicopter rides."

Having never been in a helicopter before, and having no fear of flying, I decided to do it. The wife agreed, and we plunked down our coin. And then we spent the next 10 minutes sucking from the teat of terror.

I guess I thought the ride would be somewhat smooth. Fluid. You know, like the way T.C on "Magnum P.I." coaxed that bird around the Hawaiian shoreline. Instead, we were buffeted to and fro by the wind, and we seemed forever on the verge of being sent spiraling to the ground below. The take-off was fine, and rather enjoyable, I thought. But then came the wind. And the feeling that the vehicle I was in was somewhat light and insubstantial. I had originally thought of pretending to be on "MASH" or that I was a Minneapolis superhero patroling my adopted city, but all these thoughts were quickly replaced by prayer. Oh, and picture-taking. Thus, here are some candids from the event.

The hellish vehicle in question

Approaching downtown, wracked with fear.

The Mississippi river

Our humble abode as viewed from above. The open space in the center is my backyard, where our dogs like to poop.

I realize that there are those among you that would brand me a coward. All I can say is this: I've been in rickety 2-seater airplanes and enjoyed it. And there's no ride at an amusement park I won't go on. But this...this pretty much freaked me out.